Tri-City MPs at odds on federal budget
The Tri-City's two MPs squared off on the federal budget this week, with Conservative James Moore touting its economic strengths and the NDP's Fin Donnelly branding it as "thin on ideas and solutions."
Both MPs, who are seeking re-election next year, stood their party grounds on the 2014 plan that, among other things, is high on fiscal prudence but short on benefits for families.
Donnelly, deputy critic for the Pacific fisheries and infrastructure portfolios, argued the budget doesn't have enough for job creation, with 300,000 more people unemployed today than before the recession hit.
Countered Moore, "We have the best job numbers in the G7. B.C. is doing well and unemployment is going down."
Moore, Canada's industry minister, said the Conservatives pledged to focus on the economy with a majority government and it is meeting its mandate. "Getting to a balanced budget is critical because going forward means we can offer tax relief and debt repayments," he said.
Moore also cited Thursday's announcement of a $14-billion infrastructure fund — the largest in Canadian history, which in turn will help the Tri-Cities by paying for up to one-third of municipal capital projects, he said — but many of those projects are re-announcements, Donnelly complained, as the fund replaces the Building Canada Fund that was mentioned in last year's budget.
As for the Cohen commission, a $26-million study that Donnelly championed and concluded with 75 recommendations on how to help Fraser River sockeye runs and salmon populations, Donnelly said the 2012 report is still gathering dust.
"He's wrong," Moore stated. "We have taken action. We're reacting to those individual recommendations on an item-by-item basis."
Still, Donnelly is pleased the budget contains plans to create a new DNA index to help police identify human remains — a key point for the NDP, he said.
And while Donnelly also welcomes investments in consumer protection and food safety, "I think people recognize this is a very politically driven budget. They're not putting out anything new until next year because that's an election year."